1. When are tea ceremonies held?

Tea ceremonies are held every Thursday afternoon at 2:00 and 3:00 during the academic year except for holidays. They are sometimes held in June, check our calendar to confirm. There are no ceremonies in July and August; they resume in September for the fall semester and begin the first week of school (generally third week of January) in the spring semester. Reservations are recommended as they are sometimes sold out. We also have reduced fee tea ceremonies during our fall and spring open houses (free for Tomonokai members).

2. How much does a tea ceremony cost?

Tea ceremonies are $8 per person and $6 for University of Illinois students. This covers the cost of the matcha tea and traditional sweet that we order from Japan.

3. How do I make a reservation for the tea ceremony?

Call us at (217) 244-9934 or email us at japanhouse@illinois.edu. Tell us your name, how many people in your group and what date and time you want. Leave a phone number or email address so we can let you know if we have space.

4. What happens during a tea ceremony?

You will have a brief tour of Japan House before the tea ceremony. The ceremony itself is a highly ritualized serving of tea and a sweet held as you kneel or sit in the tea room. The people that conduct the tea ceremony wear kimonos and follow traditions that they have studied for many years. The tour and ceremony will last about an hour.

5. What should I wear to a tea ceremony?

You will need to wear white socks in order to walk on the tatami mats in the tea rooms (we have some you can borrow if needed) because the white signifies purity. You will also want to wear something comfortable kneeling or sitting in while on the tatami mats. We also ask that, as you would in Japan, you wear something so your legs are covered (no shorts/short skirts).

6. What if I can’t kneel on the tatami mats or have physical limitations?

Visitors are welcome to sit in a chair or wheelchair pulled up to the edge of the tea room. No matter what your mobility level is you can still take part in the tea ceremony.

7. Can I schedule a tea ceremony at some other time, or bring a group?

Tea ceremonies are regularly held on Thursday afternoons. If you want to schedule a tea ceremony at another time it may be possible but there will be an additional $100 set up and staffing fee in addition to the $8 per person. Contact Japan House for more information.

8. Can children take part in the tea ceremony?

Children are welcome to take part in the tea ceremony. There is no age requirement, they just need to be able to sit quietly for about 45 minutes.

9. When are the gardens open?

They are open dawn to dusk spring through fall. You are always welcome to walk through the gardens on your own. For safety reasons, the tea garden with its rocky path is closed during the winter. Guided tours of the gardens are offered occasionally during the summer as well as during our spring and fall open houses. Guided tours for groups can be arranged for a $50 donation.

10. When do the cherry trees bloom?

Depending on the weather, the cherry trees bloom usually bloom sometime in the first two weeks of April. We were honored to be given 50 cherry trees in 2008 by Dr. Sen of the Urasenke Tea School.

11. When is Japan House open to the public?

Japan House is open for tea ceremonies and tours on Thursday afternoons, the third Saturday of each month for tours during the academic year and for all special events. See our calendar for details. At other times Japan House is being used for classes, specially scheduled events and administrative work.